Early Modern Exchanges


Prof Rene Weis

Professor of English

Dept of English Lang & Literature

Faculty of Arts & Humanities

Joined UCL
1st Oct 1981

Research summary

René Weis is a Shakespearian and Renaissance scholar, with a UCL PhD on Antony and Cleopatra. He is the author of Shakespeare Revealed (John Murray, 2007; Henry Holt, New York), a biography of Shakespeare, and a number of editions of Shakespeare, including  Henry IV Part 2 for Oxford, King Lear for Longman, and most recently of Romeo and Juliet (2012) for the Arden Shakespeare. He has also edited the plays of John Webster for Oxford and is the London University Trustee of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. He is a regular contributor of programme notes to the Royal Opera House and he has written for the Globe Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company. Two of his books have been particularly well received by general readers as well as by scholars in the field: Criminal Justice, the True Story of Edith Thompson (Hamish Hamilton & Penguin), about a grave miscarriage of justice in a seminal 20th century criminal justice case, and The Yellow Cross (Viking, Penguin, UK; Knopf , Random House, New York), about the mediaeval Cathars' last stand in the Pyrenees. The Yellow Cross has been translated into seven languages. Weis's new book, The Real Traviata: the song of Marie Duplessis (416 pages, 150,000 words), for which he was awarded a three-year Major Leverhulme Research Fellowship, appeared from Oxford University Press in September 2015. (http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780198708544.do)

René Weis is frequently invited to give lectures to a wide variety audiences across the range of his interests, particularly Shakespeare, the Edith Thompson case, and the Cathars. Among many other places, he has spoken at New Scotland Yard, the Oxford French and Occitan Society, Cathar conferences in Toulouse and Montaillou, the Globe Theatre, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, local history groups in East London, and the Centre National de la Littérature in Luxembourg. He regularly visits schools to talk about Shakespeare and raise awareness of the UCL English Department in line with UCL’s policy of reaching out educationally to the wider community


Teaching summary

René Weis teaches Shakespeare at both undergraduate and MA levels and has supervised a number of Shakespeare PhDs. Among his other teaching interests are the classical background of English literature, particularly Homer, Sophocles, Virgil, and Ovid; and modern drama from Ibsen and Chekhov to Miller, Williams, Pinter, and Mamet. Weis is keen to supervise further research on any aspect of Shakespeare, and particularly in the areas of editing, bibliography, biography, topography, local history, translations, and the relevance of the sectarian divides in Shakespeare’s England to his works. 


University College London
PhD, English | 1982


René Weis FRSA was educated at the University of Edinburgh, the Università per stranieri di Perugia, and at UCL, where he has worked since 1980. He was made a Reader in 1996 and became a Professor in 1998. He has acted as External Examiner at King’s College London (English), and served a four-year term as Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at UCL. He has held a number of departmental posts over the years, and has served on senior UCL appointments committees. He was a regular reviewer and panel member for doctoral and post-doctoral funding proposals for the Fonds National de la Recherche in Luxembourg. He is a governor of Goodenough College in London and in 2014 succeeded Lord Fellowes as the President of its Advisory Council.  In 2014 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA) for his 'outstanding contribution to the study and teaching of English Literature'.